When you are told your child has cancer your heart stops. I swear it! I remember being told my child had cancer and I immediately wanted to ball up and cry myself into oblivion. That is what I would consider the natural reaction, however, that isn’t the reaction you are allowed to have. You have to pull yourself together, wipe your tears, pull up your sleeves, and go fight for your baby. They are about to begin the hardest battle of their lives and you have just taken on the role of top wing man.
My child was young enough that he didn’t understand what was about to happen. I often think that is a blessing and a curse. He couldn’t google all the symptoms, side effects, statistics, and negative stories. Unfortunately, I could. Did I? Yes. Should I have? No. I couldn’t help it, it physically consumed me. I don’t think me or my husband slept, really slept, for weeks. I googled everything thing from what caused it to how to cure it by taking away sugar. (Side note- every cancer parent under the sun has looked at all the remedies, they do not need you sending them everything you can find).
I remember crying when he wasn’t looking. He took a lot of his cues from us about how to handle the situation. I made a point to cry when he couldn’t see, wasn’t with me, or was asleep. There were days I had no idea how we were going to make it and, if I am honest, there are still days I am not sure how we are making it. Not only do we have a child battling cancer …we still have other children too! Two things we have worked our hardest to do is to keep things as normal as possible for our family and remember to count our blessings! These things sound so small but they make up in really big ways. We have tried our best to keep things as normal as possible for our family so that when this nightmare is over we can flow right into a “normal life”. I believe wholeheartedly that that is one thing that has kept us moving along. We move along because we have to. When his numbers are well enough we still go to school, family gatherings, play dates, and try to let him just feel like a 6 year old boy. He can’t help that he was dealt these cards. He shouldn’t have to give up anymore than has already been taken from him.
Counting your blessings can sometimes be tough. I’ll admit it (even though I am ashamed) sometimes I can be very bitter in my heart. It is a constant battle within me!! I want to remember that just because my problems feel SO BIG and so much more important, it does not mean your problems aren’t big or important. Each day I make a mental list of at least 5 things I am thankful for. Mind you some days it might look like this: 1. I made it to work on time 2. No one cried during dinner. 3. I found extra money in my wallet..etc. It isn’t always big meaningful things, but they are blessings. Mentally listing things to be grateful for has been a big factor in my attitude during this long journey we are on. That doesn’t mean every day is easy. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t suck that your child has cancer. That doesn’t mean it’s fair. That doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. That means that you are making a point to do what is best for your child and that is all that matters.
Please know that if you find your family on this journey- do the best you can, seek out others who have walked this road, and always, ALWAYS find something to be thankful for!
Author: Jalesa Reed, mother of 6 year old Michael “Wildman” Reed, battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia